Written by: Perk Perkins, CEO at Orvis
By now many of you have either read or heard discussion around the draft of proposed flats fishing regulations in the Bahamas. If you are not familiar with the proposed legislation you can read it here.
It has certainly been the topic of much discussion around the office here at Orvis, and I wanted to take a moment to offer a few thoughts. Much of the language you’ll read here has also appeared in an open letter of comment that’s been submitted to the Bahamian Ministry of Fisheries.
To better understand the potential impact of the proposed legislation on what is an international travel destination, I asked our travel department manager to reach out to a number of our travel partners to glean the common themes from their reactions. I think this is imperative to creating a constructive dialogue and an informed letter of comment, one that includes the sentiments of many stakeholders.
As a collective, we strongly support the efforts of the Bahamian Government to manage their fishing resources as they are invaluable; not only to the local economy, but as a singular and remarkable natural resource that draws thousands of anglers from around the world each year.
The Bahamas is one of the more progressive countries in the Caribbean in its conservation of its marine resources and that leadership should be commended, supported, and continued. That should be at the heart of this legislation. The country’s restrictions on long lining and harvesting sharks are notable examples.
User fees based on a fair and accessible permit system, where proceeds are dedicated to support the science and the conservation of the resource, are unassailable as the foundation for the protection of the resource, but at the same time there must be a democratic process where different voices and constituencies can have the opportunity to shape a fair outcome.
Initially, this comment period is much too brief and the process too rushed to ensure a strong and mutually beneficial outcome for all concerned stakeholders.
What is at stake here is not only the protection of this resource, but fair and equitable legislation that protects the resource while at the same time strengthening the economic value of that resource to the local Bahamian economy.
As long-time stakeholders in Bahamian tourism as it pertains to angling, we believe parts of this legislation are too restrictive, too subjective, and as it stands will do more harm than good. Years of experience tell us that the potential for a decline in angling visits is significant, given the growth of other markets combined with the difficult and uncertain nature of certain aspects of this draft legislation for visiting anglers.
There are many excellent precedents on fisheries legislation around the world – practices that have stood the test of time – and the effectiveness of those regulations are documented and easily observed in those parts of the world. The wheel does not have to be re-invented in the Bahamas. There are experienced voices from those parts of the world who can well advise on legislation for the Bahamas.
I’d like to share our comments to the draft with you as they were shared with the Ministry of Fisheries – in the spirit of constructive and thoughtful dialogue as a means to a stronger resource and vibrant Bahamian economy moving forward. You can read them here.
Public comment on the proposed regulations ends tomorrow, Friday, June 26. Please feel free to email your thoughts or share our comments with the Bahamian Ministry of Fisheries at firstname.lastname@example.org.